Ghost of Marathon Training Past

This past Saturday I ran 17 miles, the longest I have run since training for the Chicago Marathon in 2010. I'd been feeling great up until that day and have a shiny new half marathon PR to prove it. I was nervous for the 17 miler as I tend to be when pushing distance, but nothing was inherently wrong. I'm not sick, not hurt (knock on wood...), getting plenty of sleep, and eating well.

Honestly, the run itself went really well. I started to doubt my legs especially around mile 14, walked for a short break, and then had my second wind and finished the planned distance strong. The marathon itself is far off in June, and my next 'race' (i.e. using as a training run) is the Big Sur 21 miler. So why would I start worrying now? Good question, one I'm asking myself often this week.

It was about this time during my first marathon training cycle that I started to question my ability to finish. Then, I was having what I recall to be bad shin pain and calf tightness. Every step felt like my legs were logs and there was no shock absorption at all. My long runs involved a lot more walking then due to pain and tightness. I remember being so utterly exhausted all of the time and using all of the mental energy I had to motivate myself to run even shorter distances.

After the 17 mile run I started to feel exhausted, have been sleeping more than usual the past few nights, and have been a little less ready to work out by the end of the work day. Again nothing really really wrong, but I'm usually raring to go running after feeling cooped up in the office! Does this mean I'm losing motivation? Am I a bad runner for not being excited to run every day? Maybe I'm not cut out for full marathons? These feelings together translated into self-doubt about going even farther in this weekend's run and how my body will handle it.

But when I think back to training for Chicago, I realize how far I've come in only a year and a half. I'm much stronger both as a runner and from strength training. I know how to handle what my muscles need, such as stretching and foam rolling. There is maybe some calf tightness, but no leg-logs and shin pain to go with it. Even my average half marathon time has dropped by about ten minutes from spring 2010 to spring 2012 (The PR by 16 minutes!)

Comparing these two marathon training periods really puts my current training into perspective. I AM getting better, I AM getting stronger, and I CAN run another marathon. And perhaps even another after that.

The next time you have doubts - about running or whatever it may be - make yourself think about where you were in the past and how far you have come. And remember how strong you are.
  1. That was a nice post, thanks for sharing this to us. Congratulations for a great job well done and looking forward always for more updates.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This post has perfect timing. I've been struggling mentally with my runs for a couple weeks now. I don't know why, I am getting better, stronger and faster - but I have such doubts on some runs. Sigh... Good reminder to look back at where we've been and how far we've come. I'm excited to follow you as you hit your next marathon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad it was helpful! Good luck in your running too. :)

      Delete
  3. Such good advice - it's so true! Last time I started training for a marathon I got up to 18 mile runs and had to drop out due to ITBS. This time around I can already tell I'm much fitter and just a more experienced runner overall. Keep at it!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Totally!!! I get caught up in the self-doubt a lot and sometimes it's just a matter of stepping back and putting it into perspective. Also, it sounds like you might be a bit burned out and maybe a few days off would help?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true Maureen - I have a cut back week after this weekend's long run, and I need it. :)

      Delete
  5. Great advice!!! Thanks!!! I had that feeling with my 1/2 marathon training last time. I decided to make it entirely fun, and just run the race and enjoy it - I ended up PR'ing :D

    ReplyDelete
  6. When I have bad runs lately I think about #1 when I used to throw tantrums when Alex made me run in college. And yes, they were tantrums #2 that four months ago I was pregnant. And I'm happy to just be able to run now. Goals are great. PR's are great. I hope to meet both in this next race. But running...being alone with yourself (which in our house is rare) and feeling the wind and being out in the world moving with your own two feet...it's just nice to be able to run!!!

    ReplyDelete

What are you thinking? Let me know!

Popular posts from this blog

  • As you may remember, I've been doing my best to follow the Hanson half marathon plan for the last couple of months with a race goal of the SF Half Marathon . The Hanson plans focus on building cumulative fatigue, and let me say right now I'm finding out how that works. My legs and body really feel it with every run at this point, and dare I say I haven't even run the plan to its fullest. There are quite a few things I love about the Hanson plans and also a few parts that have been very challenging for me. What I love. Training paces: The book outlines training paces based on your goal times. Although I initially thought they sounded too slow, I'm learning that keeping these paces isn't always as easy as it sounds once the legs are super tired. The paces start to make sense. Hard days versus easy days: They focus on hard effort days followed by easy effort days, meaning the hard days are really hard and the easy are really easy. I love this. I feel like I have
    Keep reading
  • This post is dedicated to a few friends who have recently started running or will be soon - they know who they are. And they ROCK! Running has done so much for my life, and I want people to know why I love it and to encourage others to stick with running too. The story of how I started is in the 'Why I Run' tab of this blog, but for this post I'm focused why I keep running. Here it is, not necessarily in order of importance. 1. Running relieves stress. When I feel anxious or have had a rough day, running always helps. I often can't wait until it's time to run that day, and sometimes I sneak out at lunch instead of waiting until after work. It makes me feel amazingly focused and happy for the rest of the day. I don't even run with music - I enjoy listening to my footsteps and freeing my mind in the great outdoors. 2. Running makes me happy. The runner's high is real, and I'm addicted. I love nothing more than feeling the exhausted-happiness I get af
    Keep reading
  • On Saturday, I ran the Lake Chabot Trail Half Marathon in Castro Valley, CA. It was my first Inside Trail Racing event, and I was very impressed with the race organization. I've been trail running for a few months now, but this is only my third trail race event; I love how much more laid back the races are and how everyone seems really into it. I know I am! Exploring new trails and parks is a fantastic way to spend a day. I didn't go into this race with specific goals, I wanted to run the hills as much as I could and use it as a hard training run. I ended up feeling really good, the weather was cool but sunny, and the lake views were pretty. This half didn't have as much elevation gain as many trail races and parts were on paved bike trail, so it was definitely easier than the other trail races I've done. The drive was only about 40 minutes from San Jose and I was there in plenty of time to get parking, pick up my race bib, and to chat with friends. I knew quite a f
    Keep reading